“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J. R. R. Tolkien
Less than a few weeks ago, I tasked my heel-wearing feet with a small journey back to my Airbnb home in Negril, Jamaica. It was located on the far West End, where the rocky road merged with the dirt and the brightest streetlight shone from the moon. Needless to say, it was hard for me to see much as I walked the bumpy ground. But as I sauntered down the path and guided my footsteps with widened eyes, the thing I saw most clear was the imprint of my shoe left on the earth below me. And in that following moment, the air had nudged my next step and I truly felt that I belonged.
For those of us that have ever questioned our purpose, existence or our belonging to a certain place, person or thing, know that there’s a big world out there that awaits our arrival, longing for our footprint in order to reveal to us the answers.
Now that may sound a bit mythical, but let’s put it this way: I’m sure you’ve heard or said some variation of the saying, “I need to get some air to clear my head!” Well, when we say that, it’s usually because we need answers from within ourselves. And sometimes it takes getting out of our environments to get out of our heads and into our bodies. Only then are we able to truly listen to what’s in our hearts.
I recall one weekend during my studies abroad when I decided to be a deviant *insert evil laugh here* and travel to Rome while all of my roommates (my usual travel partners) ventured off to Pompeii. Yes, I was alone. Yes, I was a bit nervous. But I was on a tight budget and could only afford to travel to the cities on my priority list. It was one of the best decisions I had made the entire semester and here’s why:
When I eliminated the regular bus tours, museum raids, and other “must-see/do” activities that included the wants and needs of my roommates, I was left only with the tasks that were important to me. After completing those, I went on a directionless exploration that didn’t include any tour guides. While I explored the Colosseum and other ruins of Rome, I had never felt more at peace with myself. I felt like I could hear God through the rubble of Palatine Hill telling me,
“if this is how far you have come, look at how much farther you can go.”
Inspired is an understatement. I was both liberated and reassured of my life’s path.
But clarity isn’t the only thing traveling the world is great for. With travel comes culture, experience, wisdom, inspiration and personal growth among a number of other things. Did I mention experience? Not just any experience, but the experience you can’t put a price tag on.
But still, I can hear some of you wail as I write this that traveling is “sooo expensive!!!” Sorry to break it to you but that’s an excuse. Not only is travel inexpensive, it’s an investment…sort of like those designer shoes you’ve had your eye on, except, the return is far greater and doesn’t depreciate with time.
When you journey the world and expose yourself to different cultures, a change within you begins to develop like a seed. With each new setting, that seed is watered and slowly, but surely, your ideas about living and what that means grow. Soon enough, you become well versed in the ways of various people and the many things life has to offer you and your knowledge regarding what you can offer the world back is enriched and blossoming.
Up to this day I am creatively inspired by my travel experiences. Seeing an Italian Renaissance play in Venice showed me some of what made locals laugh and cry. Viewing Insidious 2 in a Paris movie theater showed me that Americans aren’t the only boisterous people yelling back at the screen. And walking through the tiny house Anne Frank last made her refuge in Amsterdam put that time in history in a perspective that all five of my senses were able to create.
Don’t let fear stop you from fulfilling your personal journey through travel. Let flight be the blanket that comforts you during your time of discovery and let nature be your neighbor while you unearth where both your home and your heart really is.
Because the universe really, really wants to talk to you, but only through your journey can it make you listen.
And for my seasoned adventurers, why do you travel?